Castle Hill is the most important geotourism node in the Black Country Geopark Project.
The hill is a faulted anticline of Silurian Elton Formation, Much Wenlock Limestone Formation (MWLF) and Coalbrookdale Formation strata which represent a folded uplifted and eroded palaeo-landscape that is overstepped by Carboniferous Pennine Lower and Middle Coal Measures with a major unconformity at its contact. The hill is the site of a number of individual type locations for Silurian Fossil species and is significant in ongoing international research projects for microfossils. This is also the site of the world’s first true stratigraphical geological map published in 1665.
Both the Silurian and the Carboniferous sequences here were of major economic importance and consequently heavily mined and quarried during the industrial revolution. The motte and bailey construction of Dudley Castle was completed in 1070 by Ansculf de Picquigny (northern France). He was succeeded by the Paganel family during the 12th century who became Lords of Dudley.
Today the castle and its courtyard are the scene of living demonstrations organised by re-enactment groups, along with highly popular ghost walks which enter into the true spirit of the site — reputed to be haunted by the ghost of The Grey Lady – plus open-air music extravaganzas, children’s events and amazing birds of prey displays. The walls of Dudley Castle are embedded with trilobites — the only animals the world has ever known to have eyes made of crystal.
The 11th century Dudley Castle, which this year is celebrating 950 years of its motte and bailey structure, is situated at the heart of the zoo, and is home to Castle Creatures an interactive medieval experience featuring live animals. The exhibit tells the story of the Earl of Dudley's family and explains the history of the castle. It houses animal exhibits showing how medieval folk lived in close proximity with species, such as rats and bats, as part of everyday life.
Dudley Zoological Gardens is unique: a zoo with Planet Earth’s rarest species set around an 11th century castle incorporating the world's largest single collection of Tectons. In 2009 they received World Monument Status.
There are lions and tigers, snakes and spiders. Go wild at Dudley Zoo! Come face-to-face with lemurs as they roam in the trees. Watch amazing birds of prey, feed nectar to colourful birds in Lorikeet Lookout, meet friends on the farm and look out for ghosts in the castle. Gift shop, restaurant, face painting and land train are all available.
The Zoo has the country’s only vintage chairlift all sited on a 40-acre wooded hillside with a rich geological history. The limestone of Castle Hill is composed of a 420 million-year-old prehistoric seabed!
There is the Queen Mary restaurant on site, toilet facilities and a large car parking area with a small charge. The Zoo is open every day at 10am except Christmas Day. Last admission in Winter is 3pm, Easter to September 4pm. For more information call +44 (0) 1384 215313.